Saturday, July 21, 2012

chinese responsibility

china and russia in the u.n. security council have again vetoed proposed sanctions against syria unless assad commit to the peace plan developed by kofi annan.  china will not interfere in the affairs of another country that does not pose a threat to china.

a few weeks ago, the new york times quoted a chinese foreign ministry spokesman liu weimin as saying, "I think the Syrian government and opposition should both truly shoulder their responsibility and cease-fire and half violence. Both sides have this responsibility because they both undertook this commitment."  this got me thinking about responsibilities.

what is the role and purpose of a national government?  in the interactions between china, the united states, and the rest of the world, we see philosophical differences emerge concerning the role, function, and responsibilities of a government.

china's reluctance to support rebellion in syria does not necessarily reflect its love of the assad regime.  both china and russia have fostered beneficial economic and political relationships with assad.  however, the chinese have stated that they can both work with other governments.  they realize that a different syrian government can provide what benefits they currently derive from business with that country.  i do not think that economics are the driving factor for declining u.n. support for the rebellions.  instead they refuse to trample the sovereignty of another government.

the rest of the world may at times take issue with chinese policies.  the western world may accuse china of human rights abuses.  but where we see abuse or totalitarianism, the chinese may see protection and responsibility.  i would argue that the government of the people's republic behaves very differently from that which authorized the crackdown on the tienanmen square protesters, and i would argue that the mass killings of syrians by that government may be unacceptable to the chinese government.  however, it's hard for the chinese to support efforts to topple a foreign government when so much of the rest of the world disagrees with many chinese policies.

in the western democracies of the world, we believe that government must represent the consent and perhaps will of the people.  power is generated by the people of a nation.  as our declaration of independence insists, "Governments are Instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," to protect certain rights that we hold to be inalienable. for us, a government is not just a controlling group of individuals over a larger nation.  the power to govern is generated from the consent of the people.  we give up certain individual autonomy to gain greater liberty, equality, and protection.
because we believe that the foundation of government lay with the consent of the governed, it allows up to support revolution, uprisings of peoples against dictators and totalitarian regimes.  we believe "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to the them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."  and so we supported the libyan rebellion, and support the uprising against assad in syria.

chinese political philosophy does not exactly mirror our own.  the government of the people's republic views itself as a protector of the chinese people.  its policies revolve around security for its people, security against other countries and other markets, security against social unrest and de-stability, security against poverty and hunger.  the chinese government probably does not see governmental power and legitimacy as derived from the will of the people but rather through the government's ability to serve and protect.  as china is now the second largest economy in the world, supporting some of the world's largest and most ambitious infrastructure projects, china has revolutionized the way its citizens live.  it trades the rights of the individual for a great prosperity.  for china, the freedom to individual expression, individual agency, and personal political determination and participation could be advanced rights, guarantees upon which government is not founded but which are generated from greater prosperity, greater equality socially and economically.

this is not to say that i do not believe in our western tradition of human or basic rights, and i find the chinese reluctance to sanction syria as a permanent member of the u.n. security council frustrating, though of course, the organization of the u.n. and the existence of a security council frustrates me.  but as we criticize china for human rights abuses, i believe we must ask ourselves why china behaves the way it does.  this analysis cannot be justification for unjust behavior, but can aid in understanding chinese policy and in our methods of negotiating with china.  china as a major world player, as a huge economy, as a powerful government with a powerful military cannot expect the world to ignore its human rights abuses, restricts its media, abducts its citizens extrajudicially.

Friday, July 13, 2012

being at 3am

3am in the morning and chocolate milk and tortilla chips taste really great.  fatty.  salty.

holocene.  the crowd at the club is young.  it’s a young energy.  and at first that energy is indescribable.  men and women dancing together while djs from new york cooly spin.  cool.  as in relaxed, un-anxious, un-perturbed by the crowd.  he wears a solid white t-shirt below his black curly hair and head-phones.  a torrent of bodies below him as he cocks his head, listens to the beat, and bends down to mix beats.

the crowd here loves him.  dancing.  boys grinding on girls.  boys dancing alone.  girls with their gal friends.  boys sharking through the crowd cruising for girls.  the crowd is young, alive, and twenty-something, roiling in its twenty-something pheromones, revelling in its twenty-something sexuality.  the youth of crowd seems odd and fantastic to me just because i generally find myself in a crowd with a greater age range, a different energy.  adult contemporary.  but the sight of all those boys and girls pressed close together under the pulpit is beautiful.  the crush of bodies blurred and bouncing beneath a blanket of pixellated projected light.

he is in his early twenties.  he’s young.  he’s cute.  he’s fit.  he’s awkward, nervous, but i guess two men just meeting for the first time must be a little awkward like this.  earlier in the evening before the dancing and drinking and red bull and laughter, i meet a young caller, a new friend.  he comes to my house.  we go to bluffs.  we talk about our shared southern heritage growing up in alabama and arkansas.  we drink pacificos.  we make out and pull off each other’s clothes and roll around in bed.

emmanuel levinas thought that the erotic touch, being together sensually, may be a primordial relation allowing two living beings to extend outside their own experience, for one person to affect another person’s being directly, another’s person’s being and time and existence.  and beyond the pleasure of sex, the excitement of sex may be generated directly from the way in which your existence brushes up and touches mine, changes and bends and shapes my own experiential trajectory.

“It is impossible to say just what I mean!/ But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen...”

we kiss, his hands on my skin, his mouth on me, the heft and shape of his body under me as we have sex.  he bends my present, changes the possibilities of my future.  he moves this way, so i respond that way.  time dilates now.  a flush under my skin, a rapid heart beat, the details of my surroundings seems to blur, my attention oscillates between my own pleasure and his own.

through sex we intentionally engage and affect present time, my own and another’s.  drinking and dancing and partying together, we get caught up in another time warp, a strange collective shift.  the crowd at holocene does not merge into one protoplasmic being, one consciousness.  but the crowd collectively affects one another, the movement of one dancer affecting the present moment of another person, the movement of the crowd together affecting each individual within it.  we dance and bump into one another, the rhythm binding our experience. a flush under my skin, a rapid heart beat, the details of my surroundings seems to blur, my attention oscillates between my own pleasure and his own.  our visions blurs of color and figures and shadows.

parties and dancing and having sex: the nature of these activities allow our motions, our movements, our caresses to directly affect the trajectories of another’s present.  these engagements exemplify some simple, physical gestures in which those involved escape the solipsism of the mind, of consciousness.

at home, i have to take care of my body.  i’m hungry and tipsy and still excited by the party at holocene.  three in the morning, i indulge in tortilla chips and chocolate milk, alone now.  when it’s all said and done, each person lives alone with his or her thoughts and a biological body.  
susan sontag wrote in her notebook: "as consciousness is harnessed to flesh."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

summer sickness

thursday i found myself with a fever of 101° and it wasn’t just the sudden onset of summer here in portland, oregon.  the weather here arrived right on schedule: july 5th, warm, cloudless, sunny, brilliant.  if through the haze of my fever i remember correctly, the city seemed energized and active and happy.  or at least that’s how i imagined it as i made my way to work.  but honestly i don’t remember much about yesterday morning, about waking and preparing for work, about driving to the office, about sitting in the office for two hours before i had to make a hasty exit because i was sweating and shaking with chills and dizzy.  i had found only an hour of sleep and felt crazy.

so i went to urgent care where the doctor discovered that i had a fever and was very dehydrated.  waiting for lab results, i still don’t know what’s wrong; i expect just some sort of bizarre infection that only i could have stumbled upon during my oregon misadventures.  in the meantime, i’m forcing down a bland diet of bread and attempting to hydrate myself with coconut water.  should i choose to stand, my nausea keeps my body bent at a ninety degree angle as my head spins.

i am not sure, however, how much i can blame certain recent behavior on my intense illness.  though i felt sick on the fourth of july, i hadn’t yet come to grips with my condition.  puke and rally, right?  i did not stay out late that night, but i probably should not have gone out at all.  i held it together when mikiel and i showed up at a barbeque in the northeast where friends had congregated to watch magic mouth play.  i was probably already a little feverish though; i felt a little lost in my head, unable to really keep up with conversation.  but i had fun.  i felt better than to be expected.

after this, mikiel, john, and i made our way to the block party being held behind biwa in southeast.  djs.  dancing.  more friends.  but i was finding myself exhausted and dehydrated.  excuses, excuses.  what excuse can i have for being rude to a stranger, especially a handsome young man flattering and flirting with me.  this dude was very smooth, obviously flirtatious, and funny, however i kept trying to spin the jokes in an inappropriate direction.

at one point i think the conversation went like this:

he said, “you’re a very attractive guy.  i think you’re the cutest guy here tonight.”

i replied, “ha.  so you’re desperate to get laid tonight?  i need a beer.”

i probably walked away at this point.  i really can’t remember the end of our conversation, but the guy looked slightly disappointed every time i looked in his direction.  and i looked for another drink.

that’s my problem: i’m always looking for my next drink.

my boyfriend and i broke up a few weeks ago; i’ve been drinking heavily and happily since then, keeping my hands and thoughts occupied.  which has been successful.  i lost myself in the revelry.  but that’s all i’ve had thoughts for.  when my friends and i visited seattle a couple weeks ago for gay pride, a couple friends of mine found sexy companions during the course of the weekend to keep them occupied.  sunday afternoon, eating ice cream on a sidewalk in capitol hill, they recounted their exploits and asked if i had found any special friend.  i responded that i hadn’t, that i’d been on the lookout for my next cocktail, not just cock.

i then thought that a couple drinks before the car ride back to portland would probably make the trip easier.

part of the problem is that drinking is a lot more predictable than dating.  at the time, the man at the block party seemed only to want to take advantage of me.  i don’t want sweet words for a sweet hour late at night.  i don’t want the pretense.  a hook-up is fine, but i don’t want the song and dance around it.  unemotional.  uninvested.  disinterested.  i don’t think i can stand any sort of emotional investment, even knowing up front how false it is.

with booze, if i don’t like the salty dog i’m drinking, i know the gin won’t awkwardly insist on a second date.  if the sweetness of this bourbon runs dry, there’s beer in the cooler.

now with my illness, i find myself on the timid christian diet: nothing spicy, nothing sexy.  bread and coconut water.  nothing alcoholic.  it’s just me and my fever dreams and time to come to grips with everything.  to sort it all out.  i find the sobriety kind of frightening, but i’m sure my body will appreciate it.

wednesday night i dreamed of a cramped, damp castle on a rocky outcrop over the ocean, and an invading army unconvinced by my speech to turn away.  and inside the castle i knew there were all sorts of false friends, agents secretly seeking my destruction.  it was very game of thrones.  external invaders against my own pathogens and the mind games of the dangerous liaisons already within the castle.